WASHINGTON – After giving up a three-run lead in the eighth inning in their previous game, the Pittsburgh Pirates found another tough way to lose Sunday night.
The Pirates rallied from two runs down in the ninth to take the lead, then let Washington tie the score in the bottom of the inning before pinch-hitter Scott Hairston’s sacrifice fly with one out in the 11th inning gave the Nationals a 6-5 victory to complete a three-game sweep.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle insisted his team wouldn’t be fazed by the second straight tough loss and sweep by Washington, much like it wasn’t after the previous night’s defeate.
“Some people asked the question of how we were going to show up today after last night. We’re going to show up,” Hurdle said. “We’re going to play. We all know what’s at stake. We’re playing for something and we’ll keep pushing.”
Jayson Werth, who had missed the last five games with a sore shoulder, entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth and doubled leading off the 11th against Brandon Cumpton (3-4).
Werth went to third on Denard Span’s grounder to first. Hairston then sent Cumpton’s first pitch to deep left and Werth scored easily after the catch.
Ross Detwiler (2-2) pitched two innings for the win.
Span and Anthony Rendon had two hits each for National League East-leading Washington, which has won six straight.
“Both teams were battling, so you just have to keep playing. Try to score a little more runs than the other team. That didn’t happen for us this weekend,” Hurdle said.
The Pirates lost all five games on their road trip, and have lost five straight for the first time since September 2012.
Trailing 4-2 entering the ninth inning, the Pirates got one run on a wild pitch and took a 5-4 lead on Gregory Polanco’s two-run double off Rafael Soriano.
Washington rallied against Matt Melancon in their half, however. Asdrubal Cabrera’s one-out single off the glove of a diving Neil Walker scored Werth, who had walked, from second with the tying run.
Pirates starter Edinson Volquez allowed four runs, one earned, and six hits in 6 2-3 innings.
The Nationals trailed 2-1 before a successful challenge started a seventh-inning rally.
A pitch to Michael Taylor was called a foul ball by home plate umpire Andy Fletcher as Taylor started towards first. Manager Matt Williams challenged, saying the 2-1 pitch hit Taylor’s hand, and the call was overturned upon review.
Pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen and Span singled to load the bases. Cabrera, facing reliever Jared Hughes, grounded to first baseman Ike Davis. Davis threw high to home, the ball deflecting off Russell Martin’s glove as Taylor scored.
As the ball rolled up the third-base line, Frandsen raced home as well, putting Washington ahead 3-2.
Rendon then grounded to Pedro Alvarez, who threw high to home for another error, allowing Span to score the Nationals’ fourth run.
“We’ve got a great defense and I trust them. And I know everybody trusts them, all of our pitchers. And I think if we keep going after the strike zone and forcing contact, they’ll make the play,” Hughes said.
Errors by Washington’s Ian Desmond and Rendon helped the Pirates take a 2-0 lead in the sixth.
The Nationals cut it to 2-1 in the sixth on Desmond’s two-out RBI-single.
Pirates: RHP Charlie Morton was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right hip inflammation.
Pirates: RH Vance Worley (5-2, 2.51) goes against Atlanta today as Pittsburgh opens a three-game homestand. He’s 1-2 with a 5.81 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts) against the Braves.
Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 2.92) opposes visiting Arizona in the first of four games. He is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his last three starts.
For game that featured four errors, there were two exceptional defensive plays. In the eighth, Cabrera fielded Russell Martin’s grounder behind second and flipped the ball behind his back to Desmond as part of a 1-4-6-3 double play. In the bottom of the ninth, Starling Marte made a diving catch in center to rob Rendon.